Tag Archives: LEGO Batman: The Video Game

LEGO Batman Arrives

Santa kindly brought me a copy of LEGO Batman for the Wii at Christmas, thus helping cement the LEGO theme we had going in December.  I think we still have at least one unopened kit at this point.

Back in September, I was going on about my seeming lack of enthusiasm for the game.  I could not bring myself to run out and get it on day one, at least not at the list price of $50.

But now it is here and it seems that the rest of my predictions about the game rang pretty much true.

The game is a lot of fun.  It is at least as much fun as the previous LEGO titles from Traveller’s Tales.

It feels like the game has more content than LEGO Indiana Jones did, though it still falls short off all but the first LEGO Star Wars title, and that was before Travelers Tales discovered the secret sauce that makes their LEGO franchise so addictive.

As I guessed, you take on the role of Batman and Robin and run off to fight the super villains that plague Gotham City who are lead, in three separate acts, by The Riddler, The Penguin, and The Joker.  Once you have defeated the final scene in a given act, you can then go back and play from the point of view of the other side, taking on the super villain role yourself.

Being a LEGO title, you spend a lot of time breaking things, blowing things up, and collecting the little studs that are the unlock currency in the game.

The first two characters we bought were Batgirl, which my daughter wanted to play and whom can take over all of the Batman roles, and Nightwing, an alternative Robin who has a better outfit, some hair mousse, and a pair of batons with which to fight.

All in all, a solid game.

The fact that it was not based on story lines I knew well (like Star Wars and Indiana Jones) turned out to be less of a problem than I had anticipated.  But then, what is there to understand when it comes to Batman?  Bad guys get out of hand, Batman, foils their plans, beats them about the head and shoulders, and hands them over to the authorities.

The main drawback is that the game does not really bring anything new to Traveler’s Tales LEGO oeuvre.

Sure, there are neat little things, Batman and Robin both have suits that do special things and there is the who boomerang/batarang thing, but those don’t really change the feel of the game.

And so, in something of a exaggerated reflection of my own views on the game, I practically have to drag my daughter kicking and screaming to get her to play LEGO Batman with me.  She asks if we can play something else, please!  She can even get a bit sulky, sitting there holding the controller while the game starts up.

And then we actually start playing the game and she doesn’t want to stop.

Because it really is a fun game.

But, as things go in the MMO world, it is difficult to judge the game on its own merits, in a vacuum.  LEGO Batman has to live in the shadow of what went before.

LEGO Batman Unleashed

Is the chicken soup fresh?

-Batman

LEGO Batman: The Video Game was on the store shelves yesterday, available for a variety of game systems including the Wii.  Since we have a Wii, that is the version that interests me.

And, as with the past LEGO titles from Traveler’s Tales, I am considering buying it.

However, I am just not as enthusiastic about it in advance as I was for LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga or LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures.

As spot on as Batman is for the LEGO video game franchise, what with the utility belt and the absolute legitimacy of the character punching people in the face repeatedly (How many times did Luke Skywalker ever punch anybody in the movies?  I think Princess Leia hit more people.), I’m not quite there yet for this title.

Part of this is probably a bit of burn-out on Traveler’s Tales’ LEGO game franchise.  Their chicken soup is not so fresh any more.

While I am sure it will be fun, as with Warhammer Online for the MMO veterans, I am sure there will also be a lot of “sameness” about it.

I haven’t played LEGO Batman, nor have I read much about it, but I can bet that in any given level you will fight all sorts of bad guys, solve some puzzles, and collect a lot of LEGO studs to unlock characters and abilities that you will then be able to use in the “free play” version of the level.

To finish the game, to get that magic 100% display, you will have to go back through each of the levels in “free play” mode, as some of the special hidden items (canisters in LEGO Star Wars, treasure chests in LEGO Indiana Jones) will only be accessible with via abilities that you won’t have in the “story mode” version of the game.

Am I close?

I could be wrong, but my guess is that they have hit their stride and won’t deviate much from past success.  Again, not that it won’t be fun, but it is no longer a “rush out and get it today” level of fun.

Then there is the price.

$50 is something I have to think about.  I just wrote a check for a new roof on the house and it isn’t like the current headlines in the paper are all about prosperity and economic growth.

Well, that and, after playing LEGO Indiana Jones, I am skeptical about there being $50 of value in the game for me, when measured by my own dubious internal, unquantifiable metrics.  Those internal metrics were set, of course, by LEGO Start Wars: The Complete Saga (which may be a bit unfair since that was a re-release of two past titles) and LEGO Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (which I feel is a fair comparison).

My internal barometer of game value says that if LEGO Batman were $30, I would already own it.  At $40 I will buy it the minute we tire of our current Wii titles and want something new to play.  But at $50, it is a special item, something for Christmas, Birthday, or other such event.

Finally, after price, we have the story itself.

The LEGO Star Wars and Indiana Jones titles had huge, well known movies behind them.  Most people have seen them. (We made my mother watch Raiders of the Lost Ark when she was out to visit, so there is one more person on the list.)  Traveler’s Tales could get away with making fun of a lot in those movies because some many people have the context to get it.

Batman though… well… which Batman?  Is he the comic books from my youth, the TV show I grew up with (Julie Newmar is the only real Catwoman… well, she’s in the top 5 at least), the Tim Burton launched movies, one of the animated series, the new movies, or maybe the Frank Miller version?

Okay, it is probably not the Frank Miller version, cool though that would be.  I haven’t read much about the game, as I said above, but I can probably guess that much.

The problem is not that Batman isn’t as universal as Star Wars or Indiana Jones, the problem is that there are so many variations of him.  And no matter which version they picked, it will be the wrong version for somebody.  Somebody out there will be looking for the chicken soup scene in the Superfriend’s version of the Batman character.  It might be the wrong Batman for me.

So there I stand.

All that said, the vague LEGO ennui, the value proposition, and the “whose Batman is it anyway” angst, I am sure we will end up owning the game at some point and that my daughter and I will have a lot of fun playing it.

The chicken soup may not be fresh, but I bet it is still very good.

We just won’t be getting the game this week… or next week, most likely.

How about you? Did you get a copy?